Meet Kim Jackson, a Scientist Developing Water-Conserving Hair Products
Plus tips on how to care for curly hair
Dry shampoo is a must for those mornings when you're running late, for post-work out refreshes, or to extend the time between washes. But for people in South Africa, where water conservation can be a matter of life and death, products like this fill a more critical gap. Enter Kim Jackson, Principal Scientist at Proctor and Gamble. We asked Kim about her work in a STEM field, the inspiration behind the WATERL<SS brand, and her own hair care tips.
How long have you worked for Procter and Gamble?
I celebrated 25 years with P and G in September. Time goes fast!!
What does a "Principal Scientist" do? How (and why) did you get into this field?
I am a chemist by degree. When I began my career at Proctor and Gamble, I developed methods for analyzing our ingredients in our products. One day, I was asked to give an impromptu response about our products and how we engage consumers…unknown to me there was an SVP in the audience. Afterwards, he said that I needed to move out of the lab and be in a role that allowed me to engage with consumers. The rest is history…that was 19 years ago.
As a Principal Scientist working with consumers, I seek to understand what motivates our consumers to purchase our products. Through my engagement with consumers, I piece together puzzles to determine where the market is heading in the future so we can be ready and continue to delight our consumers. My background in science allows me to translate between our consumers and our formulators so there is a connection between them.
What advice do you have for other young women considering a career in STEM fields?
Go for it!! A career in STEM is AWESOME. I have always loved math and science. My background in STEM has allowed me to hold multiple roles at P&G, from Analytical to Packaging to Formulation to Products Research (consumer understanding). STEM roles today are not typical…you don’t have to work in a lab. STEM allows you to have a strong foundation in being able to interpret data and knowledge in an unique way. The problem solving skills coupled with the creativity that women bring to the table from studying and pursuing STEM fields makes us (women) a competitive force in this world.
You played a pivotal role in creating the WATERL<SS brand for P&G. What inspired you to take on products like this?
The brand has a very unique backstory. WATERL<SS was originally developed and launched in Cape Town, South Africa in response to the local water crisis and the possibility of ‘Day Zero’. [Editor: Day Zero was introduced in 2018 by the city of Cape Town in South Africa to focus the public's attention on managing water consumption.] This is when Cape Town’s taps were projected to dry out and water rationing would begin. It marked the largest drought-induced water crisis in modern history for Cape Town. Thankfully, due to water conservation efforts, Day Zero has been postponed for now, but conscious water usage is still top of mind.
I traveled with the WATERL<SS team to Cape Town, South Africa to not only ensure that we were creating a product that reduced water consumption, but also that the broadest range of needs were being met on non-wash days for a diverse range of hair types. While in South Africa, I noticed how divided the haircare sections were in drugstores – while the black and white community each had respective products for their hair type, there was no brand with products inclusive of ALL hair types. We felt that the gap between the two communities needed to be closed.
As you know, our Influenster community shares reviews about products they try. How important are online reviews and customer feedback to P&G brands like WATERL<SS?
Reviews and customer feedback are very important for P&G brands like WATERL<SS. The WATERL<SS brand was created in part to show that diversity in hair types should be acknowledged by the beauty industry and reviews help educate that the brand can be used by anyone, at any time. In today’s society, the assortment of brands offered to consumers and the never ending lists of ingredients can leave majority of buyers feeling overwhelmed. Reviews offer the chance for consumers to cut through the clutter and engage with others that have the same hair-type or hair needs – we want them to take advantage of a judgement-free forum to express their opinions.
Even more importantly, reviews help P&G better understand our customers and allow them to have a voice. It inevitably helps shape our future product developments to ensure the brand is targeting all haircare needs.
What does your own personal haircare regimen look like?
I try a lot of different styles and have tried every product I’ve worked on. Additionally, I have tried our competitors to understand similarities and differences. Right now, I have been wearing my hair curly because it easier for me (takes less time). I love our WATERL<SS Dry Shampoo Foam because it’s water based and contains styling polymer. Throughout the day, I may shake my hair a bit so that I get the revival of scent. I really love this product. I also love using our Dry Conditioning Spray on my and my daughter’s hair. We both have very dry hair and hair soaks up the nutrients without weighing it down. My other go-to product is one that I have been trying out and hope to see on WATERL<SS in the future. It’s great for roller sets and creating new styles without a wash reset.
I hear you have some great tips for us on hair care and how to best use WATERL<SS products. Care to share?
1. Go easy on the water.
Water is often used to help reset curls when in a hurry as it adds hydration to hair, but it can sometimes cause hair to look limp and dirty. Our Dry Shampoo Foam is alcohol-free, non-drying and consisted of curl defining ingredients specifically designed for wavy and curly hair on non-wash days. When moderately applied to the roots and hair, the dry shampoo foam allows you to reset your curls while providing hydration, giving you fresh easy-to-style hair.
Not everyone has the same number of non-wash days, and depending on hair type, some can go much, much longer than others! When you want to restyle your hair during a non-wash day, apply Dry Shampoo to the roots and let the product settle for 30 – 60 secs before brushing through. To finish the style, apply Dry Conditioner to the mid - bottom half of strands (ears down) and brush through. I use the Dry Conditioner Instant Moisture to enhance the radiance and shine of my hair as well as add softness throughout my locks.
2. Prep the night before, or even just before your work out.
Another way to use our Dry Shampoo Foam is to apply at night before going to bed, when you don’t want to wash your hair the next day. Rub it through the roots, hairline, and underneath the back part of your hair and wake up with volume at the roots and great fresh scent.
The most effective way to use Dry Shampoo when moving from workout to zoom meeting on a non-wash day? Apply product directly to the roots, without brushing out and place into a ponytail, prior to your workout to give it time to absorb excess oils. Post-workout, take down your ponytail and brush through; your hair will be fresh, requiring less maintenance and saving time. You will be ready for your close-up on zoom!
3. Hydrate and moisturize.
It is important when transitioning to and from permed, curly, straight, or natural hair, that you keep your hair moisturized. I like to add the WATERL<SS Hair Balm as it works best on thick and coily hair to help retain moisture within tight curls, while the alcohol-free Curl Milk gently detangles, defines and softens curly and textured hair. The two products combined, create beautifully shiny and nourished natural hair, no matter your style.
One of the biggest issues I have when styling my hair is maintaining frizz-free curls. The main cause of frizz, other than unbearable summer humidity, is a lack of moisture. Styling oils can help, but they often leave the hair feeling heavy and weigh down natural curls. Instead, I prefer the Dry Conditioner Instant Moisture as it works to add, lock and seal moisture into your hair while enhancing shine and softness without the weight. If you have natural, textured hair like me, you can also try twirling some Curling Milk or an alcohol- free product into your hair to help re-shape your curls.
Are you a dry shampoo fan? Have you tried WATERL<SS yet? Let us know in the comments below.
Did this motivate you to try out some new hair care techniques? We want to see what's happening with your mane in our #FrizzFighter Gallery!